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Full text of "Laughing Torso"

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like a drawing by Toulouse-Lautrec. The walls
were covered with tiles, representing the Palais de
Versailles. Floating on the lakes were swans and
seated on their backs were nude ladies, clothed only
in black stockings. This made a strange and rather
beautiful background for the inhabitants of the
cafe. A very loud mechanical piano was playing.
We sat down at a table and the girls stood in a row
in front of us. Everyone who comes in has to choose
a girl to drink with and dance with. There were
about eighteen of them, very heavily painted and
with very little on. They all wore socks and high-
heeled shoes. Their hair was most elaborately
curled and some wore coloured bows of ribbon; it
would have made a marvellous painting. They
lined up and said, " Choisissez, Monsieur., *Dame"
I chose a large, fat one, with red hair and Pascin
chose a small and I thought, rather disagreeable
young woman. They said they would like some
wine. We asked them if we might do drawings of
them. They were delighted and sat motionless for
about ten minutes. All the other girls crowded
round and left their men and insisted on sitting for
us too. They took each of our drawings, folded them
up and put them down their socks. They kept their
money there and, as we explained that we found
their conversation and company quite sufficient, we
had to produce ten francs from time to time. At
12 o'clock we were quite exhausted, I had done
eighteen drawings. I took a taxi and went home.
Pascin stayed behind and made friends with the